Meet the Team
Meet REAL Cheryl
Being an introvert by nature, I was never into the ”team scene”. I’m usually doing sports alone – me against me. I’ve been an active athlete for 30+ years and have been competing in events for over 20 years. I’m a triathlete, ultra runner, cyclist, surfer, open water swimmer, snowboarder, skateboarder.
I met coach Adina on social media a couple of years ago. She was starting a Tri team. I didn’t really think I needed a coach, but decided to check it out.
Team B*REAL is soooo much like a family. Everyone is so supportive of everyone else. I feel like I can be me. Since being on Team B*RAL I’ve become more connected. I started coming out of my box and sharing my adventures; not feeling like I’m being judged. I love that everyone is involved. I love that everyone talks and shares info. I feel like I’m part of something.
I’m excited to watch my teammates reach their goals. I’ll be the loudest cheerleader out there for each and every one of them. All while I’m working towards my finish lines.
Thank you coach Adina for bringing me out of my box and for being more than a coach, for being my friend. Let’s Go Team B*REAL!!!
Meet REAL Siobhan
As an adult, a female beginner triathlete, one of my biggest accomplishments is the confidence that Coach Adina has helped me achieve. Simply by believing in me and helping me work towards my goals to make it work for me and my crazy lack-of-time life.
I had a lot of goals and fears. Being an athlete most of my life, I knew what I wanted, but less how to get there.
Coach Adina has taken out the guesswork. She worked with me individually to process an individualized care plan that allows me to focus on my “why”. The simple fact that she believes in me, even when I don’t believe in myself. That makes a difference.
And it’s great to be part of a team again. Team B*Real is more than just a team, it’s a family of like-minded athletes at all stages of the game.
Meet REAL Erin
I felt lost! I am a full time working mom who felt tired all the time and would just squeeze in whatever workout I could when time allowed. I had little to no motivation and was stress eating which wasn’t helping my overall situation or my mental health.
I am eating better, working out consistently and have a drive to do more! I’ve gotten back into swimming, loving running and I am getting on the bike more! A few strength sessions a week and I’m feeling stronger and crushing numbers!
I love the support and motivation Team B*REAL offers and how they have become an extended part of my family.
Between the Winter Warrior Challenge, Four Questions Toward Focus Workshop, and a few consultations to stay on track I’m gearing up with optimism for the Triathlon season!
Meet REAL Mercedes
Exercising regularly has never been part of my life. When I was a child, I was not exposed to
the habit of exercise. I just learned to swim so I didn’t drown, but that’s it.
In 2016 I enrolled my son in the MIT Kids Triathlon. It was the first time I was exposed to training for a Triathlon. I took my 7 year old son to swimming, we practiced transitions, and he finished his first Triathlon, which was very emotional.
And the thought came to my mind… I would like to do it too, it looks fun. But I have always tortured myself with that idea of not being able to do anything that I didn’t start when I was young.
In June 2021, a good friend of mine decided to do a Triathlon. She’s around my age and she used to run some 5k races, but a Triathlon is a different story. So, I decided to go to watch her and cheer her on. And that’s when I learned that the Triathlon was organized by a team called “B*Real” owned by a woman who was from our town. I saw their spirit, how you race against yourself. I think that was a breakthrough for me.
At that very moment, I decided I wanted to do a Triathlon. I wanted to do something that could break my toxic mindset of “not being able to do something because I was too old”. And I signed up for a race called “Title 9 Women’s Triathlon”.
In September 2021 I finished my first Triathlon and I felt heroic and so fulfilled that I couldn’t stop thinking about what was going to be next.
In 2022, I continued running and I finished a 10k race in Cape Cod. Running a longer distance was good, but what I felt after the Triathlon was completely different. So, I decided I wanted to do another one. And I remembered team “B*Real”, the root cause of my change of mindset.
So, I joined them. And I’m so glad I did.
And when I think about this story, I realize how important women are in my life. Behind my new lifestyle, there are 2 amazing women. My friend, Evelyn, who inspired me to do my first triathlon, and Adina O’Neill, owner of “B*Real” who has created a community, a safe space where we can be “Ordinary People, Extraordinary Athletes”.
Meet REAL Gina
I’m so thankful to be part of the amazing group of female athletes with Team B*Real. I love the group and coach Adina because it has real women who are passionate about sports and fitness.
I joined the team because my whole life I never thought of myself as an “athlete” but always felt I had an untapped potential to train in endurance sports. I started with ice dipping and yoga to help my immune and nervous system which then led to swims, biking and eventually my first triathlon.
Team B*Real provides me with the strength, support, and encouragement that I need to stay motivated and to reach my goals. Without them, I wouldn’t have been able to do the three swim races and a triathlon. I also did the marathon bike ride in 2022 and the 50 mile Cranberry Ride with Charles River Wheelers which I loved!
I’m so thankful for all the support I’ve received from the group and am excited to continue challenging myself and growing as an endurance athlete.
Meet REAL Ann
I’m honored to be a featured athlete on Team B*Real. I love triathlon because I can switch to a different discipline instead of racing in one sport the entire race which, to me, is much more interesting than a single sport race. The gym had been my second home since my dad first took me to one in 1980. I have a 31-year running, 40-year cycling and 39-year swimming background. I was cross-training a lot because it was less boring than doing the same routine repeatedly every day. That was the precursor to discovering triathlon.
In 2017, an opportunity arose to combine my love of swimming, biking and running into one sport and I started racing triathlons. I have done 14 events of varying distances from 69.1 to super sprint. I’ve reached the podium, raced in heavy downpours, finished last and even found myself on television when Outdoors Delmarva filmed our race. These experiences caused me to adopt the perspective that triathlon is an adventure and to believe that anything can happen on race day. You can train hard and be as prepared as possible on race day but if weather conditions turn brutal or your bike breaks down, you might wind up not finishing the race. These unexpected situations have nothing to do with your athletic skills or fitness. The best way to deal with it is to put your chin up and realize tomorrow is another opportunity to race. Take it!
Coach Adina has been amazing, not just to me, but the rest of our team. She is accustomed to successfully coaching a diverse background of athletes and has the patience and temperament to help us succeed, even when our individual goals may be different. She fosters an environment of respect and camaraderie in our team, which is invaluable. She also gives wonderful pointers on how to improve one’s performance and fitness. I’m excited to see what the future holds for us! “
Meet REAL Christine
“I have always been self conscious about my body and I look at the race pictures and my first thoughts are how big I am and that I need to lose weight. But I keep looking at them and there is nothing here that I should be ashamed of. I am not a thin girl by any means, I have big legs, hips, and a tummy… I know this! But I’m also strong and have accomplished so much.
This was my first Triathlon, an Olympic at that and I did it. I was not the fastest by any means but I did it. My swim, the thing I struggle with the most, was much slower than others around me, but it was my fastest time in all my training. My legs were already toast as I started my ride, but I managed to push through the 24 miles and finish. I started the 6 mile run portion, legs even more tired now and I kept going. I had blisters on the bottom of my foot, I was hot, and exhausted and I just kept going.
From the moment I hit the water until I ran across that finish line I never once stopped… I moved the entire time. My body did that!!! So I am proud of that and happy to share these pics with no shame. I have things to work on and sure some lbs to lose, but I am ready to work on improving and looking forward to my next event- not sure what that will be yet.
I LOVE Team B*Real because there are people that I can relate to that are striving towards the same things I am and being real about the struggles they face with training, things not going as planned, and just day to day life. There are women from all walks, with different experiences, at different levels of training and exercising, and yet we all encourage each other and support each other. It’s a fantastic community, especially for someone new to the sport looking for some camaraderie.”
Meet REAL Kim
I’ve been an athlete all my life. Running was a way to escape. I didn’t always have a healthy relationship with running.
In Sept 2016, on a training run, I was almost hit by a car that ran a red light. I came crashing down on my knees. Got up. Thanked the drivers who stopped to make sure I was OK. Kept running. I had blood running down my legs. At mile 13, I called my husband to come pick me up. My knee hurt. A lot. Nov 2016, I completed my 10th full marathon with an angry knee.
In July 2018, I raced a 5k and my knee blew up. I knew I had a problem. Got an MRI. My surgeon confirmed I had a meniscus tear. I thought no big deal, I’ll be back to running in 8 weeks. NOT. My surgeon found a giant hole in the cartilage of my kneecap, cleaned it up and we hopped for the best. The best did not happen. I needed a major surgery called Osteochondral Autograft Transfer System (OATS), basically a cartilage transplant from a donor. I waited 2 months for a match. In Jan 2019 I had the surgery and that’s when my downward spiral started.
In hindsight, my spiral had been set in motion long before but my surgery made things worse. I self medicated with food and alcohol. Because I couldn’t be active, I gained weight and my drinking became excessive. I didn’t think I had a problem because I only drank on the weekends and only out at bars. I struggled for 9 months until my primary doctor told me I was signing an early death certificate. On Sept 14, 2019 I had my last drink. I have been sober since September 15, 2019. I returned to running on Nov 2, 2019 and have been running ever since.
With my sobriety I quit sabotaging myself. I’ve lost all the weight I gained, the shame, the guilt, the hate and my toxic family. I gained self-love, acceptance, joy for running, grace, gratitude and grit.
I wanted to be on a team surrounded by badass women so I joined Team B*REAL. Although I am not a multi-sport athlete, I do not feel left out ever. The support, energy and passion is contagious. As a running coach (currently on hiatus) I would often tell my runners “run with your heart and a smile.” And that is the mantra on how I live my life
Meet REAL Meghan
“I’m not your typical athlete but I Tri.
I’m a klutz. I was never the first person picked for any team event. I was on my high school swim team because I kept tripping in soccer and always missed hitting any ball.
I did not continue with sports as I got older. I joined a gym because I gained weight. I took a Spinning class because it didn’t look too hard.
A few months after that first Spinning class, I was told I should teach. No way! I wouldn’t be good enough. Over the years of teaching and going to conferences I found a love of indoor cycling. A community across the world that shares the same passion. I soon wanted to teach other people the joy of indoor cycling and inquired about becoming a master instructor. It was suggested that I get a bicycle and ride outside to connect better to my students.
I didn’t know how to ride a bike! I had one as a kid but didn’t like riding it. Some friends were going to ride the Midnight Marathon in 2017 and asked me to join them. They took me to Walmart where I bought my first bicycle! Riding 26 miles from Hopkinton to Boston was hard. But I enjoyed every painful mile because of the people around me and the different views of Massachusetts.
A few months after that I bought my first road bike. Joined a cycling club. Rode a 2 day event for the Pan Mass Challenge.
I started getting ideas about doing a triathlon. Except I’m not a runner. Not every triathlete is great at every sport. I didn’t know where to start.
When I met Adina at a BikeMS dinner she encouraged me to do a triathlon! She became my coach. I went through her 4 week training program. I joined Team B*REAL and registered for my first triathlon.
Last weekend I raced in my first triathlon!
I still cannot believe I did it. Before meeting Adina, I would never have considered doing 3 sports in 1 day. I would have said let the real athletes do that. But now I can proudly say that I am a REAL athlete and a triathlete!”
Meet REAL Simone
The inspiration to tri grew slowly in me over many years. I started in the pool water walking. I had severe chronic pain and could not walk around the block. I graduated to swimming laps. One day I realized that I swam a mile! My acupuncturist asked if I could swim an open water mile. My initial response: why would I want to? After a while I thought “Why wouldn’t I?”
I signed up for a clinic and a fun open water swim. That first event inspired and excited me. I joined the Masters swim team and made a lot of friends. I started competing in open water events regularly. In 2016 I was the swimmer on a 70.3 relay team. I was both intimidated and inspired walking around the exhibit hall. It was a tough swim, but I enjoyed it and got it done! I was grateful for the experience but did not see myself in that community or sport.
After a total hip replacement and a shoulder injury I spent 8 months in PT. I talked with my therapist about doing triathlons. He cautioned me not to run, but if I was willing to walk, go for it. It still seemed out of reach.
A year later, I went to buy a bike. I picked out a purple beach cruiser complete with a flowered basket on the front. I sent a picture to my swim friends who replied “Put that bike back and walk out of that store!” I was surprised and confused. I knew nothing about bikes. They told me about a used road bike – black with pink flames. It sounded hideous but those pink flames were badass. I was terrified to ride on the road, so we drove 40 minutes to some quiet & flat roads. We rode 10 miles. It felt fantastic. After the ride, my friend said “YOU are going to do a triathlon!” After a few minutes stunned in silence I smiled and said “Hell, yeah!” The next June I did my first Triathlon! Since then I completed 16 sprint tris, more open water events than I can count and relayed on two 70.3s. Due to health issues I’m focusing on open water, but I hope to be back to normal and out there doing it all!
I love being part of Team B*REAL. I usually expect the training topics to be helpful, but I didn’t know I needed that information. I especially loved the month of the swim focused training tips and all the support and encouragement.
Meet REAL Allison
I started as a runner – never very athletic growing up but began running in high school/college for fun/activity. In my 20s I kept up running, did a few races.
I heard about triathlons and thought it sounded fun – however, I was not much of a swimmer. I know strokes from swim lessons as a kid but could barely make it down one lap of the Y pool. So I took a swim class for adults and worked my way up to several laps!
My local Y had just started a triathlon class so I signed up with a friend – we did our first sprint tri together in 2009 and I was hooked. I did a couple more sprint triathlons but then got derailed with kids and injuries.
Fast forward several years, I’d been working towards getting back to tri, had been swimming with a masters class, got a new-to-me road bike, and with my ankle injury resolved, I was ready to try an Olympic – terrified but it was awesome.
I did my best to keep up activity during Covid and I’m excited to join with Adina and team B*REAL to continue my triathlon journey – it’s great to have support from a team and looking to that next goal – maybe a half-Ironman!
Meet REAL April
“I’ve always been a runner – never a fast one though. As I’ve gotten older I’ve dealt with some injuries and realized the importance of cross training. My first triathlon was a sprint a few years ago at the local YMCA and I’ve done a few more since then.
I took some time off since we moved a couple years ago but am getting back into it now. I’m enjoying swimming much more than I ever thought.
I’m not sure I’ll ever do longer races, and I’m ok with that. That’s one of the things I like so much about team B*REAL. It’s not about going the farthest or fastest for just one race. It’s a lifestyle, and we all support each other in that journey.”
Meet REAL Jess
“I have been a runner for the last 5 years. I’ve run multiple marathons and numerous other races. I decided I wanted to do a triathlon last year after running with a friend who suggested I should do one. I thought she was crazy. But the seed was planted and I couldn’t get the thought out of my head.
Luckily I had a friend that is an amazing open water swimmer and he offered to teach me and swim with me every week. I bought a bike. I hated the bike, it was so scary for me. It still is. The bike is my weakest skill. I only rode my bike a handful of times over the last year, and fell every time I rode it!
Race day comes, I haven’t been in the water in over a month, or on my bike more than 3 times in the last 6 months. I opted to not use a wetsuit which I later regretted, only because I feel like the other swimmers had a slight advantage with buoyancy. Next came the bike, if you look at any photos of the bike that day you can see pure fear in my face. I white knuckled the whole thing, and fell into a volunteer while trying to dismount. Finally the run! I love the run! I crushed the run! My legs felt so weird trying to run, but after the first half mile I was flying! Finished strong and saw Adina at the finish line!
Best feeling ever to complete something that was outside of my comfort zone and pushed me through my fears. I can’t wait for the next one. Hopefully I will work harder to feel more confident on the bike.
Being part of Team B*REAL has really helped my confidence. I’ve connected with more people in the tri community. The encouragement and positivity has really helped me feel welcome and important.”
Meet REAL Marci
A 19 year veteran triathlete!
Her story began at age 9 in Maryland. She joined her local summer swim team because her best friend went out to the movies with the swim team; and well she was a little jealous. She learned all the strokes and fell in love with swimming. At 13 her family moved to Texas where she swam on a year-round competitive team and her high school team. She occasionally rode her bicycle with her dad to the local Sonic Drive In. Later at The University of North Texas; Marci found the real love of her life – TRIATHLON.
At age 19, Marci became a triathlete on a cool cloudy and windy day. She swam 300 meters in the pool, cycled 14.8 miles on country roads, and ran 3.1 miles on a bike path to reach her first finish line and was ADDICTED. She said she’d never do anything more than a sprint tri or run anything longer than a 5k. Marci took on the challenge and to date has completed numerous Sprint and Olympic, TEN half iron distance and THREE full iron distance triathlons, not to mention TWENTY full marathons!
It’s so much more than a sport and lifestyle for her. Triathlon has helped Marci manage diagnosed depression and anxiety more than therapy and medicine combined. Getting out of bed and getting training done helps her through rough moments including the sudden death of her mom about 10 years ago. Marci’s mom was the Head Cheerleader of Team Marci at every big race she has ever completed and she’s still there in spirit screaming her head off telling the spectators “that’s my daughter and she is amazing!”
Marci enjoys Team B*REAL for the camaraderie. It’s been fun to meet so many other extraordinary athletes near and far doing what they love most. She connects on Zoom and Facebook with other REAL athletes and says her teammates are like family. Whenever a race is happening; there’s always so many cheers and well wishes and of course congratulations when the finish line is met.
Meet REAL Ruth
“I have Team B Real to thank for helping me to become a consistent athlete.
I am always up for trying new activities. Unfortunately, I usually attend the event then become a couch potato until the next event. I have done many 5k’s, the PMC 1 day, a 10K, a duathlon, and a Tri (minus the swim due to algae).
My most recent personal challenge was a 2 day bike event this past August. I rode in the East Coast Greenway Ride. It was 116miles from NY to PHL !
With Adina’s teachings this past year, I finished strong and injury free. My recovery time was also minimal. I learned how and when to hydrate – who knew to begin electrolytes before the race? I was prepared with nutrition. I added a more consistent stretching routine. At the finish, I wanted to keep riding!
And I didn’t stop there. In September, I continued with riding weekly and now focusing more on Run/Walk intervals.
Who is this new athlete?
Team B Real members inspire me to do more. Thank you for accepting me into your community.
This 57 year old empty nester is making plans for next year. I just may need to sign up for that Tri again. I know a few people that can help me improve my swim.”
Meet REAL Hannah
Like many people, she was feeling aimless in the midst of Covid. She has been active her whole life and has taken on a more competitive view on sports as an adult. Foot pain developed from running led to surgery in August 2019. Despite being strong, healthy and following all the guidelines for recovery, it took over a year to be able to run again. This is where her triathlon journey began.
“When I realized that I might not be able to compete in half marathons (or finally do a full one), I began to think about my options. I was born on a bike, so that has always been an enjoyable activity for me. Being outside amidst the chaos of Covid wasn’t enough – I felt like I needed a goal to work toward. One day on a bike ride, I thought about triathlon!
Immediately I was worried about my swimming ability, I felt like the shorter distance run would be ok for me (a 10K would be perfect!) and I certainly knew I could handle the bike leg. I began to doubt myself on the swim.
That’s when I decided I had to face this challenge.
I was connected with Adina, and that’s where my journey really took off. I took her Find YOUR Finish Course and learned all about the sport and how to get started with my training. I gained confidence as a swimmer and was able to take it day by day.
Team B*REAL has been an amazing support system. The group rides and advice from the community have been some of my greatest sources of joy along this journey. Watching others conquer their own milestones and hurdles has been inspiring. I love that we are all from different walks of life, locations, abilities, ages, goals.
Triathlon can be intimidating. You aren’t just doing one sport, you’re doing 3! Which means 3 times the amount of gear, knowledge, and background you need. Team B*REAL has badasses with such a collective and impressive amount of experience and support to offer. From a ‘silly’ question about what RPE means (rate of perceived exertion in case you’re wondering) to what kind of wetsuit to buy…you can ask anything!”
Hannah earned a podium finish at her very first triathlon, coming in 3rd place overall for the Olympic distance at Sunken Island Tri in Lakeville, MA. She pushed beyond the doubts of her swim ability, spent extra time at the pool and was relentless on applying the form tips I shared with her. In the end she said “I can’t believe the difference maker was my swim – I finished 10-15 minutes faster than others in my age group.”
10overMeet REAL llene
Ilene is 65 years young, happily married for over 40 years, and blessed with 2 children and 5 grandchildren. She has been a lactation consultant for over 30 years. Her journey as an athlete started several years ago, when her dad passed away.
“Amidst the grief, I experienced a moment of self-reflection. I weighed 275 pounds at the time and knew I had to turn things around. After losing 125 pounds my daughter challenged us to run a 5K and that’s when I caught the bug. It’s that feeling that comes when you cross the finish line! 10 years later I’ve completed 40+ half marathons, 10 full marathons, 7 triathlons!
To say that my life has been transformed by running is an understatement. I credit it with saving my life. Especially since being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2019. You see, everything I learned about perseverance and determination in running marathons helped me have the strength to make it through cancer treatment too!
My hope is to inspire others. I’m just an everyday person with a lot of determination. Through my journey I hope everyone can see that anyone can change their life.
The most enjoyable part of running for me is the people I’ve met along the way. I love being part of Team B*Real because it’s all about real people. I find inspiration and motivation from all of you as we share excitement over our achievements and angst over our challenges. We are ordinary yet extraordinary. We lift, support and guide each other unconditionally with kindness and without judging. We are a special kind of family!”